Lacklustre growth is evident in the buy-to-let residential sphere, according to the latest issue of Rode’s Report on the State of the South African Property Market, sponsored by FNB.
On a national basis, in the second quarter of 2011, house rentals mustered yearly growth of only one percent, while rentals of townhouses remained at roughly the same levels they were at a year ago. Flat rentals performed best, with growth of only three percent.
Some pleasant news for investors in the buy-to-let market is that, after peaking at the end of 2009, flat vacancies have since been edging southwards. Having said this, landlords might still feel hard done by owing to the adverse impact of sharp rises in property taxes. Hikes in electricity tariffs, although normally not a direct cash outflow for residential landlords, are putting pressure on their tenants’ household cash flows, thereby indirectly affecting tenants’ ability to afford rental increases. Nevertheless, for now, landlords can comfort themselves in the knowledge that interest rates on their mortgage bonds are at record lows, and that there is little upward pressure on rates for the time being.
Rode predicts that prospects for capital appreciation in the housing market will remain feeble, in line with the still-overvalued house market and weakness in the residential-mortgage market.
“After peaking in the first half of 2010,” says Rode, “the yearly growth in the value of new mortgage loans has turned sharply south, and the value of new loans granted in June 2011 was actually lower than a year ago. Naturally, contractions in mortgage loans granted act as a restraining factor on price movements.”
Weak demand for office space
For now, no improvement in the demand for office space is detectable.
“Uncertain economic conditions are obviously affecting business confidence and must be making firms think twice about expanding their premises or hiring new staff,” explains Erwin Rode, property economist and publisher of the Report. “The result will no doubt be a continued lacklustre demand for office space to rent and thus, for now, moderate growth in rentals remains the most likely outcome.”
In fact, after starting the year off with vigour, the growth in office rentals waned in the second quarter of 2011. On a national basis, office rentals mustered growth of five percent year on year. This comes after having recorded robust growth of nine percent in the previous reporting quarter.